resources/sales and marketing/distribution/OTAs
By Taz Bareham – February 3, 2014
distributionMarketingonline travel agenciesOTAstravel Guidetour operatorTourism Business Strategy
Updated May 2022– As a tour operator, expanding your revenue streams and increasing your bookings is one of your priorities. One of the keys to achieving this goal is expanding yourdistribution channelsthrough a partnership withvarious resellers. An effective way to get started is to work with an online travel agency (OTA).increase your bookingsand your earnings. Being on an online travel agency's list increases your chances of being discovered by millions of people looking to book their next tours and activities online.
In today's article, we're going to go over the importance of OTAs, who are the biggest players in the game based on region, and how you can make the most of working with OTAs.
But first, what are OTAs?
OTAs are booking websites that offer a one-stop shop for all things travel. Whether it's airfares, car rentals, vacation rentals, cruises, hotel bookings and hostels, vacation packages, tours and activities, and more. Travelers looking for a convenient way to book their entire itinerary from one booking site would come to an OTA.
Some of the biggest OTA players currently operating in the travel market are:
- Expedia group
- Get your guide
These top online travel agencies drive hundreds of thousands of visitors to their websites every day - making them a great partner to work with to increase your bookings.
What are the advantages of an online travel agency?
As a travel provider, OTAs offer a number of benefits for your business and customers.
Benefits for travelers:
- It's a one stop shop where you can book travel from over hundreds of different brands and suppliers in the travel industry
- It offers travelers the convenience of comparing different companies and making a booking while still being able to pay for the entire itinerary
- OTAs give travelers the confidence to book with a known and reputable name. Travelers potentially venturing into a foreign country may not always want to book directly through an OTA travel website they are unfamiliar with
- OTAs offer travelers a user-friendly platform. They are constantly updating and implementing better features on their website to improve and simplify the user experience
Benefits for operators:
- Provides greater reach and exposure for your business, especially in the international market
- OTAs help bridge the gap to fill available spots, especially in the off-season, by easily accepting last-minute bookings
- Enhance your content for thousands of international travelers by translating your contentTour Descriptionsinto several different languages
- Most OTAs like Viator offer a simple and thorough onboarding experience
The best online travel agencies worldwide
About the company:
Unlike certain OTAs that list a variety of different travel products,Viatorfocuses entirely on tours and activities. It sells its products to a global consumer base Viator.com, 60 additional consumer-facing websites, mobile sites and apps, and through its global network of affiliates. Viator listings are backed by over 500,000 reviews, photos, and videos submitted by travelers. It has over 9 million visitors per month.
How it works:
Viator must approve you first! You will check with the local visitors office and relevant associations to ensure you are a legitimate company. Then they make sure your customer service is up to par, usually by sending a travel expert to test the products themselves. Another cool thing Viator does is create a website dedicated to tour guides. Here guides can list tours, licenses, photos, availability and payment details. The website will feature real customer reviews, SMS booking notifications and an online booking facility.
To register as a tour guide with Viator, click here.
To apply to become a Viator supplier, click here.
2. Get your guide
About the company:
Get your guideis the leading booking platform for incredible travel experiences. It's a two-way B2C marketplace that connects travelers to thousands of activities and attractions worldwide. Since launching in 2009, GetYourGuide has raised more than $650 million and sold over 30 million tickets.
Ab 2021, they have listed over 35,000 tours and activities in over 7,440 destinations. Your deck gets average 2.5 million visitors per monthfrom all over the world. And these numbers are constantly increasing.
How it works:
Website visitors start by choosing a destination to visit or a specific attraction to attend. GetYourGuide then shows a selection of travel products from different travel companies within the search criteria. Whether it's the transportation needed to get around town, fun activities like paddle boarding or kayaking, or something more interactive like taking a cooking class. All these travel services are listed so that travelers can compare and create the best itinerary that suits their needs.
If you are an operator interested in working with GetYourGuide, make sure you have a booking engine that integrates seamlessly with their system. Rezdy is proud to be recognized as one of the top tier premium providersconnectivity partnerwithin GetYourGuide Connectivity Partner Programwhich recognizes the best performing reservation and ticketing systems. This ranking is based on API performance, API capabilities, and partner's business value and engagement with GetYourGuide.
The integration between our system and GetYourGuide is seamless, offering operators a simple and automated booking process. When a customer makes a booking through GetYourGuide, you must manually enter the booking details into your manifest, reports, and CRM. With Rezdy, all this data is processed automatically. This saves you time and also ensures that you never make a mistake, forget a booking or miss a payment.
Apply, click here.
Top OTAs by region
When choosing different online OTA travel agencies, it is important to consider the popularity per region in order to have a successful partnership.
AMER – Expedia
About the company:
Expedia.comis the largest travel company in the world and extremely popular in America. It was named a Top Travel Company in Travel Weekly's 2013 Power List. With a global presence in over 70 countries, Expedia receives over 50 million unique visitors each month and its mobile apps are downloaded nearly 80 million times at a rate of over 200 downloads per minute.
How it works:
Site visitors begin by choosing from stays for accommodation, flights for airline tickets, cars for car rental, activities for tours and activities, and packages for a combination of two or more of the options listed. Expedia will then offer a selection of suggestions based on the options listed above.
Apply, click here.
APAC – RedBalloon
Burp Balloonis an extremely popular OTA in Asia Pacific. They are an Australian owned company operating since 2001 and have over 4 million tours and activities booked on their website. Unlike Expedia, which offers a variety of travel products, RedBalloon only sells experiences like outdoor activities, wine and food tours, water sports, and spa and wellness — to name a few.
How it works:
If you visit their website, they have cleverly organized their product offerings into different types of categories. These categories include Experiences – outlining the different categories of tours and activities they offer, location, seasonal events like Mother's Day experiences, gift ideas, business trip ideas, bucket list experiences, and newly listed products.
From these options, customers have the opportunity to browse the categories that best suit their needs. For example, if you are looking for a gift for your partner, you can browse the list of gift ideas for men, gift ideas for women or even gifts for couples.
EMEA – Headout
Headout is the OTA of choice in Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Just like Redballoon, which focuses exclusively on selling experiences in APAC, Headout offers experiences in over 60 cities and 40 countries, most of which are in the EMEA region.
As of February 2022, they claim that the company has done so increased by 800%within the last year and had over 10 million bookings on their website. They recently raised $30 million in their most recent Series B funding in early 2022, after just months raising $12 million in Series A funding in September 2021.
How it works:
Headout's main goal is to make travel more fun and spontaneous. They do not list the tour company or the brand of the tour operator. Instead, they just tell the customer what type of tour or activity they are buying.
Travelers looking to book through Headout begin their journey by choosing their destination. Different experiences are then presented depending on the type of tour or activity and their pricing. For example, cruises, museum tours, sightseeing tours, entertainment, food and drink tours, popular city activities, etc.
Tour operators in Europe who sell their tours on Headout say the company is growing fast, selling hard and pushing for better rates for tour operators.
Integrate your booking system with your agent lists
Working with OTAs offers tour operators a variety of benefits. From expanding their business reach to millions on a global scale,increase your bookinglevels andsources of income, and expand their distribution channels. However, the more bookings your company receives from an OTA, the greater the administrative burden.
Without aOnline booking softwareOperators have to manually enter the booking details received from OTAs into their system. This opens up gaps that lead to errors such as failure to update and enter details into the system, missing payments, and over/double bookings. This can be extremely disruptive to business operations, especially at peak times.
An online booking software likeRezdyeasily integrates with all OTAs listed in this article and offers operators a seamless booking process. Rezdy helps you present your real-time availability on the OTA website, easily process bookings and payments, and automatically update the system and manifests.
In addition, Rezdy offers the most advanced channel manager sales channel within the experience industry -Rezdy-Channel-Manager. Listing your products in Rezdy Channel Manager connects you to over 25,000 resellers including the largest OTAs ready to promote and sell your products.
Using the Rezdy Channel Manager is as simple as:
- Name your price
- Set your commission rates
- Let resellers sell and promote your products.
And on top of that, Rezdy Channel Manager simplifies the payment process by collecting payments andpay commissions. This reduces the need to track your agents for payments.
Curious to see how Rezdy fits into your business? StartFREE 21-day trialorBook a demotoday.
If you liked this article, be sure to follow itRezdy Blog. There are many tour operator marketing tools and tips designed specifically for businesses like yours.
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A travel agent will help you arrange transportation, find lodgings, and suggest an itinerary. A tour operator will arrange your transportation, lodgings, food, entertainment, and itinerary. A tour operator removes the headaches. A tour operator does the work for you.What is the most used travel agency? ›
1. Booking.com. Booking.com is one of the largest and most popular travel websites in the world, with over 1.5 million nights booked every day.Which for you is much better to book online or with a travel agent? ›
Travel Agents Could Save You Time Compared to Booking Online
Travel agencies take that responsibility from you, and in turn, save you a bunch of time. As long as you are booking with a reputable agent who is experienced in your destination, you can be sure that they are an expert.
- 1 booking.com.
- 2 tripadvisor.com.
- 3 airbnb.com.
- 4 expedia.com.
- 5 agoda.com.
Just pick one up, and politely tell it you've been quoted a holiday price, give the details and ask if it can beat the price. Try to negotiate in price per person, not total cost, as discounts seem less. Now call a few more, quoting the best price you've got and see who can beat it.Is it cheaper to book through a travel agent? ›
Booking with travel agents is often cheaper than booking online as they have access to awesome money-saving deals. Privy to secret airline prices, travel agents book scores of air tickets each day and will be able to easily tell you if the flight price you found online is a reasonable one.Do you get a better deal through a travel agent? ›
Generally not, and especially not for short distances. For the most part, any discount you'd get from using a travel agent would be for a combined package. Still, it never hurts to ask if your travel agent can get you a deal on your flight.What is the largest travel agency in the US? ›
Who is the largest American travel company? Booking Holdings has the current title for both largest travel company in the world and the largest American travel company based on gross sales in 2021.What was the first online travel agency? ›
1996: Creation of the first online travel agency – Travelocity. Seeing big opportunities in online booking, SABRE founded its own online travel agency in 1996. Travelocity became the first website to allow consumers to reserve and purchase tickets through its website.What platform do travel agents use? ›
In short, the Global Distribution System (GDS) is a travel agent's motherboard for booking airline tickets and other sorts of travel goodies (like hotel and car).
From guaranteeing your hotel is available to knowing if the excursion company is legitimate, booking through a travel agent ensures travelers will not get duped. And they provide insurance for medical emergencies and trip cancellations. They're there 24/7. Travel agents are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.What is the difference between travel agency and online travel agency? ›
When hiring a travel agency, an individual will be able to work with one travel agent. This can be done in person, on the phone or by email. In comparison, travel services work online and an individual can use services just by entering information into a website to plan a trip.Should you book directly with airline or travel agent? ›
When it comes down to it, booking directly through the airline is almost always more convenient. If the price changes after you buy your ticket, many airlines will get you the difference back. Southwest, for example, refunds the difference directly to you or applies it as credit towards future airfare.What are the disadvantages of using a travel agent? ›
Users can tweak the options, and pick the most attractive flights, car rentals, hotel rooms, packages, cruises, etc. Frankly, travel agents just cannot book every deal you can find on your own. There are many promotional offers, discount codes, Twitter sales, etc., that must be booked through the supplier's website.What is a typical travel agent fee? ›
“Those fees range per agent from approximately $25 to $75 per ticket.” The other advantage of using a travel agent? They are able to provide discounted or free amenities or adventures for the trip.What percentage do travel agents take? ›
A 7% – 8% commission level is somewhat standard with host agencies working with self sufficient agencies. Independent travel agents earning 90% – 100% of the commission are usually high volume seasoned agents that require little to no support from the host agency.How do I know if a travel agency is legit? ›
A great way to check if a travel agency is legitimate is by checking that the company names on the paperwork match with who you have paid. There's no harm in double checking your bank account and credit card statements for names and amounts paid.Why do travel agents get better deals? ›
Travel agents are able to offer better deals than prices found on online booking websites because they have access to exclusive discounts and promotions that aren't available to the general public.Do you have to pay travel agents upfront? ›
When you book your vacation online, you can only book with a full payment. When you use a travel agent, you can book by putting down a deposit. Yup, you can reserve your spot for as little as $100 per person 1. When you book your vacation online, you pay in full.How much of a discount do travel agents get? ›
The second reason to become a travel agent is the discounts you get on travel for you and your family. As a travel agent, you can save up to 75% on travel including hotels, resorts, car rentals, cruises, theme parks, and vacation packages …
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- Offline Travel Agency. ...
- Online Travel Agency. ...
- Wholesale Travel Agency. ...
- Business Travel Agency. ...
- Leisure Travel Agency. ...
- Niche Travel Agency.
|Feb 1, 2016||8,933|
|Feb 1, 2017||9,906|
|Feb 1, 2018||12,932|
|Feb 1, 2019||12,761|
1996. Microsoft, the most high-profile technology company on the planet at the time, realised there was probably something in this early momentum and unveiled its attempt at an online travel agency, known as Expedia. The rest is history.How do online travel agencies make money? ›
Online travel agencies make money by taking a commission from the airline, hotel, car rental agency, or cruise line when you book. (At Going, we don't take any commissions from the airlines when we send our members deals.How much do online travel agents make? ›
How much does an Online Travel Agent make? As of Feb 18, 2023, the average annual pay for an Online Travel Agent in the United States is $64,067 a year.Where do travel agents find clients? ›
Travel agencies need clients, so attracting new customers all the time is very important to grow your business. Some agents will rely on calling potential prospects – called cold calling – while others place ads online or in newspapers and magazines or use social media to attract travelers.How do independent travel agents get clients? ›
You can use email marketing and social media to get the word out. You can also attend events and trade shows in your local area. Creating social media groups is a great way to attract clients looking for travel services who may live further away.Do travel agents use Expedia? ›
TAAP is currently used by more than 15,000 Travel Agencies worldwide. Through TAAP, Travel Agents gain access to Expedia's immense selection of travel products and services. It permits Travel Agents to book through the Expedia website and earn commissions when doing so.What are the disadvantages of online booking? ›
- You need internet access. Reliable internet access is required to check reservations and add bookings that are made over the phone. ...
- You need to be ready for an influx of new customers. ...
- Not all online booking systems are created equal.
The travel agent makes the booking and is credited with the booking via their accreditation number. The commission is paid to the travel agent. For most trips, the vendor pays a commission to the travel agent after the client has traveled.Why are online travel agents cheaper than airlines? ›
Re: How do travel agencies sell cheaper flights than an airline? As with most industries, there are brokers and wholesalers who buy bulk from airlines and sell to travel agents, they then can sell at cheaper prices. They can also make own judgments to make less profit by selling tickets even cheaper than competitions.Is an example of online travel agency? ›
Some examples of Online Travel Agencies are: Expedia.com, Booking.com, Airbnb.com.How does online travel agency work? ›
There are OTAs that offer hotel rooms, flights, rental cars, vacation homes, tours, or all of those at the same time. They basically are distributors for hotels, airlines, and tour companies that profit by taking a fee for each sale. Here's how it works. OTAs are intermediaries between customers and service providers.What is the best day of the week to book a flight? ›
An curved arrow pointing right. Data from the new 2023 Air Travel Hacks Report from ARC and Expedia reveals the best day to book flights. Avoid booking on a Friday. The best day of the week to book your airfare is a Sunday.Is it cheaper to book flights online or with a travel agent? ›
If you were thinking why use a travel agent instead of booking online, it's because booking with travel agents will be a lot cheaper than booking online. Travel agents can help you avail airline discounts, codes, and coupons which would ordinarily be inaccessible to you.Is Expedia better than booking direct? ›
Expedia is cheaper than booking direct because they have access to a wide range of travel options and can often negotiate better deals with airlines, hotels, and other providers. Expedia also has the ability to bundle services together in order to offer customers more value for their money.Which travel site has best prices? ›
- Best for Last-Minute Vacation Deals. Expedia. Priceline. Orbitz. ...
- Best for Last-Minute Flight Deals. Kayak. CheapOair. Secret Flying. ...
- Best for Last-Minute Accommodation Deals. Booking.com. Last Minute Travel. ...
- Best for Last-Minute Cruise Deals. CruiseDirect.com. Cruise.com. ...
- Best for Last-Minute Tour Deals. Intrepid. Gate 1 Travel.
When it comes down to it, booking directly through the airline is almost always more convenient. If the price changes after you buy your ticket, many airlines will get you the difference back. Southwest, for example, refunds the difference directly to you or applies it as credit towards future airfare.Should you pay a fee for a travel agent? ›
The cost of using a travel agent is generally marginal, and often, they won't charge you at all. Much of their money comes from commissions the hotels and wholesalers pay them. Before you decide to book with a travel agent, inquire whether or not they charge fees.
Yes, it is absolutely safe to book through Expedia. In fact, Expedia is one of the most trusted travel booking websites out there. Millions of people use Expedia every year to book their flights, hotels, and other travel arrangements, and there have never been any major safety concerns.Why are prices cheaper on Expedia? ›
In many cases, Expedia can offer flight tickets cheaper than the airlines. Because third-party services often get a bulk discount, they can sell their flight deals for less than the average ticket prices.Can I trust Expedia? ›
You might be cautious of go-betweens or third-party booking sites, but Expedia is a legitimate, well-known online travel agency that's been around for years. Microsoft originally launched the Expedia website in 1996.Which booking site has the best rates? ›
- Ignore the Cheap Flight Myths.
- Be Flexible with Your Dates.
- Be Flexible with Your Destinations.
- Fly Budget Carriers.
- Don't Always Fly Direct.
- Join a Cheap Flight Mailing List.
- Compare Search Engines.
- Take Advantage of Student Discounts.
- Find Vouchers And Take Advantage Of Coupon Sites.
- Look For Travel Deals When Others Won't.
- Compare The Flights.
- Stay Updated With Your Preferred Airline.
- Find Popular Routes.
- Check Last-Minute Travel Deals.
- Check Package Deals.
- Final Thoughts.